Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkins are so much fun!

ROAR! Though very cute, this costume didn't make the final cut (actually it's a little too small and thus too tight on him). He did enjoy roaring and attacking the Tank during the brief time he wore it.

Someone loved his glow stick!

This is my Heisman move.

The UVA football outfit was the ultimate Halloween costume winner for Caden though he refused to have anything to do with the helmet. Wouldn't even carry it.
We have enough candy to last till next Halloween, I believe. Seeing how Caden doesn't like sugar (he only has a sweet tooth for fruit; can't really complain about that but I do find it hard to believe the chocolate addiction isn't a dominant gene he inherited from me), I better grab another cup of coffee and get to work on some nibblin'!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Block Head

Yesterday I was very under the weather. By afternoon, I was collapsed on the sofa watching Caden play. After several attempts to arouse me by screaming joyfully in my face, Caden decided to simply make the most of an immobile mommy. He started piling up his wooden blocks in an outline around my head. Comforting to know that should an emergency arise, EMT's would certainly find me surrounded by blocks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The metaphysics of a prenatal diagnosis

There is a physics theory stating that there are multiple versions of yourself existing simultaneously in different layers in different times. It makes me ponder what the Current Me would tell the Pregnant Me of the Past about life with Caden if our layers overlapped. It was difficult to be excited about my pregnancy when there seemed to be constant doom and gloom from the medical professionals. Knowing what I know now, what advice would I offer to that sad scared version of myself? I wish the Pregnant Me of the Past could have taken a tiny peek into the Current Me's kitchen last weekend.

When the Tank is available on weekends to keep Caden occupied and out of harm's way, I like to get a good bit of cooking done. I enjoy cooking with music playing so I have a flip-down flatscreen tv installed under one of the wall cabinets. I turn on a digital music station and get to work (we don't subscribe to this service and it is the only tv in the house that mysteriously gets the music channels so I'm not complaining). Caden is enthralled by this magic tv that appears out of nowhere. Plus he loves music of any kind so it doesn't take long before he's in my way in the kitchen. I try not to be annoyed and remind The Tank that he will go hungry if he doesn't keep his son entertained. But it is a political season and within minutes, The Tank has become distracted by the googling possibilities of various candidates and plants himself in front of the computer. Caden runs back into the kitchen.

I turn to Caden impatiently and ask him to please go play in another room until mommy is finished. Instead he gives me a big cheeky smile, signs "please", and grabs both my hands in his. He is asking me to dance.

It is a beautiful fall day with sunlight streaming through the single kitchen window. I have a beautiful son that wants nothing more at this moment than to dance with his mother. Always he reminds me to live in the moment. Who could resist?

I turn up the volume and we dance away for half an hour. Sometimes we take solo's, sometimes I hold him in my arms, but mostly we dance holding hands. We both invent a few new moves and showcase our best for The Tank. We all laugh and smile till our cheeks hurt. Who cares about cooking? Life is beautiful.

The Tank had commented that I should hope no one spotted us through the window or they might think we'd lost our minds. I thought, "And why should I care if someone witnessed this fantastically happy moment?" That was when it occurred to me that there is one face I would love to see spying in on us: the Pregnant Me of the Past. I remember how much she wanted to believe that these days would exist. I would wave to her and know after witnessing that scene, she would only need four words of advice: Stop worrying. Start dancing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Caden on Youtube!

It's a pretty surreal feeling to find a video of your child on Youtube that you did not put there! And it's already been viewed 981 times. Some stranger was so touched by the encounter between Palin and Caden that he made this Youtube video. It starts with her signing Caden's sweatshirt saying she loves it, it's beautiful. She looks for us, then beelines for Caden. It even catches his sweet sweet hug and Palin saying "I love him!" when she hands him back. Politics aside, this is truly touching.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cadyn Skynyrd

Caden had his first recital for music therapy. Of course he didn't perform live as well as he practiced at home but he is so very 3. However at the end, Caden morphs into Cadyn Skynyrd.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah Palin meets a rockstar

For a little more info on how she got so lucky, please visit Patricia Bauer's blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Ghost in the Window

Ding dong!

Crud, the doorbell was ringing while I was giving Caden a bath. Who was calling on us this late in the evening? I suspected yet another visit from Obama supporters. That's the fun part of living in a swing state.

I called to the Tank to answer the door. He was in the basement trying to fix the wheel of my jogging stroller. The ball bearings had fallen out (no, I don't take him offroading!) and though the stroller is only 3 years old, the manufacturer no longer supplies parts since they have discontinued that model. Of course.

By the time the Tank opened the door, I was certain the visitors would be gone. From the bathroom, I could hear him call out "Thank you!" before closing the door. We must have left the lights on in the car and some passerby was kind enough to alert us, I thought.

Then the Tank handed me a small bag of Halloween candy and toys he'd found on the porch. There was a note inside explaining that it was a secret buddy game. Someone had "boo'd" Caden and now it was his turn to pass it on and "boo" 2 other kids. There was even a ghost image to put up in the front window so other people would know we'd already been hit. The Tank said Caden's boo buddies were hiding in the bushes, hoping to see him pick up the surprise but when the Tank opened the door instead they took off running around the side of the house. He couldn't tell which probable neighbor it was but tried to call out thanks after them.

I remember this game being played last Halloween. I thought all the ghosts in the windows were part of some school project because every house with a child had one. Eventually we were boo'd, the day before Halloween. It was too late for me to put together a goodie bag to pass on even if I could find a house that hadn't already been boo'd. I was grateful Caden had been included but saddened that he must have been the last kid in town to put a ghost up.

Not this year. I had seen NO ghosts so far. In fact, I had forgotten about the game. I hung Caden's ghost in our bay window with a lump in my throat. I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually drove around the neighborhood to confirm my suspicions that this year, Caden was one of the first to be boo'd. Yep, less than a half dozen ghosts were posted. I wish I knew the identity of Caden's secret buddy so I could hug them again and again. They have no idea how much it means to have my son included like any other kid on the block. I'm generally thankful to have him be acknowledged at all but to have him be so accepted was unexpected and humbling. In our home, thanksgiving is coming over a month early thanks to our ghost in the window.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vote for Warren Sapp!

If you didn't have a favorite on Dancing With the Stars, well you do now! All we hear from the participants on the show is how tight their schedule is by the time they are informed if they survived for one more week of competition to choreographing and practicing a dance, getting fit for a costume, dress rehearsals, promotions, etc etc etc. Yet somewhere in that busyness, Australian professional ballroom dancer Kym Johnson is working with the Down Syndrome Association of LA to hold weekly dance lessons for individuals with DS. She says, "Seeing how much they enjoy doing the dances, it’s fun for me. It’s kind of selfish, actually.” She even hopes that this may lead to a performance for the group in November. How awesome is that? Her partner on the show is NFL star Warren Sapp so don't forget to vote for them this week! For more on Kym's classes with the DSA of LA, read a newspaper article here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was nominated for my first web award yesterday by Jessica of Raising Joey. Thank you so much! I am flattered and will now pass on the honor per the following requirements:
1. The winner can (and should, really) put the logo on his/her blog.
2. The winner must link to the person from whom they received their award.
3. The winner must nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.
4. The winner must place links to those blogs on their own blog.
5. The winner must leave a message on the blogs of the people they’ve nominated.

And here are the nominees:
2. Sarah at Class of 2008
3. Tara Marie at Emma Sage
5. Angie at Dancing in the Rain
6. Sheree at The Phamily Blog

Monday, October 6, 2008

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In celebration, many locations across the country will be holding Buddy Walks. You can find one near you here. Just type in your zip in the box at the top.

Also, from September 26th- October 9th, Regal Entertainment Group will air this special public service announcement in 6,700 screens across the country.The Today Show Co-Anchor Meredith Vieira, Actor John C. McGinley, Baseball Star Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, Access Hollywood Co-Host Nancy O’Dell, and former actor from the TV series 'Life Goes On' Chris Burke, and other self-advocates have come together to help raise the awareness for people with Down syndrome. Find a Regal Cinema location near you here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Passing the torch

Last Friday I went to an area Gold's Gym while Caden was at his special ed preschool. There were signs everywhere requesting volunteers for the regional Special Olympics competition being held two days later on Sunday. The gym was hosting the weightlifting events and the remaining events were being held at 3 other local venues. I was shocked that this was the first I'd even heard about the S.O. being held in my town. I read the daily newspaper out of Harrisburg regularly as well as two weekly small-town papers. There was NOT ONE mention in any of these papers about these Games. No wonder my gym still needed volunteers. I signed up and even volunteered the Tank as well. Cool beans.

On to spinning class. At the end of class during the stretches, the instructor got the group talking about weekend college football games. As they drained that topic, someone asked "What else is going on this weekend?" I waited and could not believe that the instructor didn't mention that her employer was hosting these games. I blurted out "The Special Olympics will be RIGHT HERE at the gym on Sunday!" Cricket, cricket. Silence. No one even looked at me. Finally from behind me someone mentioned upcoming high school football games and that was that.

Sunday arrived and the Tank and I were ready to go when Caden decided to have one last poopie explosion in his diaper before we hit the door. We were taking Caden with us since my gym offers childcare and he might even want to watch some of the competition. Now we were running late but there is just no rushing our kid. He runs down our front walk only to hit the sidewalk and stop to dance. Then a run over to the car parked behind ours so he can blow kisses to his handsome reflection in the shiny door. As he's finally climbing into the car seat, he notices the velcro on his shoes is pretty cool and bends down to have a few rips at that. AAGGHHH! After getting Caden buckled in, I take a deep breath to revive what little remains of my former Type A personality and tell the Tank to step on it. We go no further than 3 blocks and traffic is stopped. What NOW? I see police cars and people running down the center of the street...what the hay? And then I spot the torch. Held up high over the head of a man with Down syndrome. It's the torch run to kick off the Games. The torch bearer is surrounded by other athletes and volunteers as they run up to the middle school for the opening ceremony. Frank breaks out his camera and chases after them. I bust into tears.

We are walking distance from my house yet I had no idea that this procession would be passing by this morning. Obviously my neighbors were also in the dark as there is NOT ONE person lining the route. Nobody to cheer them on. I can only imagine that one day Caden may be the young man carrying the torch. If so, I can promise you this: there will be press and advance notice about the Games. But for today's competitors, I am angry at the lack of community support and filled with a determination. I jump into the driver's seat, back up and zoom down to the next intersection, ditching the Tank. I hop out as the procession approaches, clapping and yelling like a mad woman. "Way to go! Go get 'em today and have fun! Looking good!" Everyone in the runner's group says thank you and offers a wave, even the guy carrying the torch. In fact he hoisted it even higher with pride. I continue bawling as they run out of sight. Then I remember to drive back and find my stranded husband.

At the gym I am especially pleased at the number of volunteers that arrive. There were even 2 current world record holders in powerlifting helping out. Once the bench press got under way, the Tank and I were no longer needed as volunteers but we stayed to serve as cheerleaders. The only people in this back room were the athletes, their coaches and some family (this event brought teams from many counties away so most athletes had no family present) and the volunteers. I was peeved that out of all the gym members who came to work out that morning, NOT ONE bothered to so much as peek into this room. There was a big welcome table in front of the main door so there was no mistaking that the S.O. were being held there at that moment. Just five minutes of cheering from each of those gym members, or from even half of them, would have taken so little effort yet meant so much to these amazing athletes.

And about these athletes, I can say without a doubt that they are among the best on the planet. Their support and respect for each other, their joy and pride in simply being a part of the day, their sportsmanship and camaraderie was all exemplary. I had a frog in my throat as I struggled to hold back tears. I clapped till my hands hurt, gave out high-fives and even some hugs and had my soul filled to the brink with inspiration and hope. The summer Beijing Olympic games were impressive and Michael Phelps is awesome but this... was... beautiful.

I try to imagine Caden competing in 20 years. I hope that if we as his family cannot attend for whatever reason that there are volunteers or, dare I dream, spectators to encourage and congratulate his efforts. I hope that the local press will not only advertise the Games in advance but then will report on the results afterwards. These competitors deserve nothing less. They trained hard, some traveled far, they did their best and they deserve some type of recognition from the community.

I hope other regions are more keyed in to their S.O. programs. I truly hope that my town is not representative of others but just in case, here is the Special Olympics website where you can find local events and volunteer opportunities for yourself. Use the "find a location" button at the top of the page. And then go support others and enjoy!